Social Norms With Dogs in Public

In Emotional Support Animal by Emotional Pet Support TeamLeave a Comment

As a dog parent, you have many responsibilities. One responsibility that many pet parents forget about is managing their furry friend’s behavior in public. Nobody’s pet is trained the same way. Perhaps you’ve only done light training with your dog, which means they know basic commands and how to behave on walks. No matter how much training your dog has, there are simple social norms you’ll need to consider when you bring your dog with you in public. Here are the social norms with dogs in public. 

Poop Scooping

Nobody wants to see your dog’s left behind business, so it’s always best to pick it up. You may not do this every day in your yard, but it’s an absolute must when you’re out in public, especially because not picking it up is considered litter. That’s right; you can be fined for not poop scooping. 

For this reason, make sure you bring bags with you wherever you go. Some places, such as public parks, may have a pet station complete with a small trash can and free pet potty bags. However, you shouldn’t rely on this service wherever you go. Instead, make sure you bring anything from a bag designed for dog poop to a grocery bag so you aren’t left with a fine for littering. 

Barking and Jumping Prevention

Dogs get excited. When dogs see another dog on a walk, you can expect some tail wagging. As a pet owner, you’ve probably noticed how other dogs behave on walks. Some dogs bark, others simply walk by without noticing your dog, and others lunge and jump. Ultimately, you never know how your dog is going to react to strangers or other dogs, so it’s best to leash train them from the time they’re a pup so they know what behavior you expect from them. 

If you’re not sure how your dog will react to people or other dogs, ensure you don’t walk too close to anyone else. Make sure your dog cannot reach another dog while on a leash unless they know that dog and have proven they can play nice. If your dog barks, lunges, and jumps when he or she sees another dog, try to get your dog into training as soon as possible. You may also want to work with a behaviorist because these are signs of dog reactivity that stem from anxiety. 

Keep the Leash On

Even the most well-behaved, well-trained dog can be unpredictable on walks. If you want to ensure your dog’s safety, keep them leashed at all times on walks. Find the right leash for your pet and always have them where it when in public spaces. You should also keep the leash on because you never know who you’ll meet that is afraid of dogs. It’s common courtesy to show people in public that you have complete control of your pet because people might be afraid of large dogs or have had something happen in their past. Having an unleashed dog can lead to some dangerous interaction that could cause yours or another dog to require swift medical attention like CPR for dogs.

Of course, there are some public places where your dog doesn’t have to be leashed, such as the dog park. Make sure you follow the rules of the parks where you take your dog so you can keep them safe.

Ensure Dogs Are Welcome

While pet parents wish they could bring their dogs everywhere they go, dogs are not welcome in all public places. So before you take your dog anywhere, make sure you do your research to determine if it’s okay you bring your dog with you. For example, some restaurants are dog-friendly, while others are not. 

Even if dogs are welcome at a restaurant, make sure you bring a portable water bowl to keep your dog hydrated. 

Don’t Let Strangers Reach Out to Your Pet

Even the most friendly dogs might be fearful of strangers, especially those who will try to pet them. While many people learned when they were young that you should reach your hand out to let a dog sniff you before petting them, you should avoid doing this. Reaching your hand out to a dog forces them into the interaction. Instead, you should set boundaries with strangers. For example, if someone tries to reach out to your dog, step in front of their hand and explain that the interaction could cause your dog stress. 

If someone walks up to you and asks to pet your dog, let them know it’s up to your dog to make the decision and ask that the stranger stands still so your dog can decide to approach on his or her own. If your dog does approach, you can tell the stranger it’s okay to pet the dog. If the dog backs up or starts barking, then that’s a sign they do not want this person to pet them. 

Notice Your Dog’s Comfort Level

Some dogs do well in large crowds, and others do not. It’s up to you to determine when your dog is comfortable in social situations. You can tell if your dog is stressed by looking at their body language. Pay attention to whether your dog is showing signs of stress. There are obvious signs of fear, such as curling tails and hiding, but there are also signs of reactivity that you should look out for. Signs of reactivity include 

  • Barking
  • Lunging 
  • Growling
  • Showing teeth

It’s also important to note that just because your dog’s tail is wagging doesn’t mean they’re happy. If their tail is in a neutral position and gently swaying, then it’s safe to assume your dog is happy. However, if their body is stiff and the tail is wagging in a vertical position, then your dog might be exhibiting signs of stress and reactivity, which could lead to aggression. 

Interfere When Someone is Behaving Inappropriately With Your Pet

While it might not be comfortable to tell someone to stop touching your pet, it can be a necessity and help you avoid a dangerous situation. There are certain things dogs don’t like, such as their ears and tails being pulled. If you notice someone is touching your dog in a way that would make your dog feel uncomfortable, you should intervene and ask them to stop. Any dog can get provoked, so you must avoid a situation where your dog could get hurt or feel the need to defend. 

Training For Public Interactions

Many dogs do well in public and love getting the attention of strangers. However, if you want your dog to truly behave well in public, you should start training them as early as possible. Without training, your dog doesn’t know which behaviors you want to see from them. As the pet parent, it’s up to you to ensure your pet is happy and safe in public. It’s also okay if your pet shouldn’t be in public. Many dogs are fearful of strangers, which means you should also understand your dog before taking them out for a public adventure. 

About the Author: Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a contributing writer at where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, making art, and her pup Ruby.

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